Picks and Pans Review: Common Ground

updated 01/23/1989 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/23/1989 01:00AM

Rhythm Corps

Now that U2 has made the Top 40 safe for socially conscious rock bands, such groups as Rhythm Corps, a Detroit quartet, have room—not to mention money—to experiment with this kind of politico-poetic album. The songs are co-written by all four of the band's members—singer Michael Persh, guitarist Greg Apro, drummer Richie Lovsin and bassist Davey Holmbo. (What? No single name stars or people calling themselves the Something-or-Other?) But despite the fact that they range in age from 26 to 31, a period when most men are cognizant of, if not preoccupied with, young ladies, not one of these 10 tunes seems to have anything to do with romance. "Seems," because the lyrics are all framed in impressionistic, fragmentary phrases: "Packed in stacked in racks on the curbside/ A million birdies who were caught in a cage/ Fear so near so what does it feel like/ Streets on fire." Solidarity is obviously about the Polish labor movement and Revolution Man is a cautionary tale about change-for-change's-sake rebels "obsessed with proving it was someone else's fault." But the targets of most of the songs are vague; it's not clear what these guys are so upset about, just that they are not prime candidates for the Up with People chorus. Even Common Ground, which calls for compromise among people with "views so far apart there's no room to be found" never gets around to giving any idea of what those views are supposed to be. (Persh has given a hint to the band's orientation, though, stipulating that the "Corps" in its name is to be associated with the Peace Corps, not the Marines.) This is, nonetheless, a record worth listening to, full of evocative verbal and musical flashes that suggest talented minds at work. (Pasha)

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